In this e-newsletter:
- Upcoming Coffee Hour: Sept. 15
- Governor Outlines Priorities in “What’s Next Address”
- Environmental Literacy Task Force and Curriculum Bill Introduction
- Legislative Leadership Development Conference
- Western Michigan University Welcome Back and New Student Union
- Healthy School Meals for All
- Kalamazoo County Prescription Drug Discount Program
Upcoming Coffee Hour: Sept. 15
Please join me for an informal, in-person discussion of legislative and community issues at my next coffee hour.
Friday, Sept. 15
Factory Coffee, 205 W. Lovell St. in Kalamazoo
While advance registration is not required, anyone who would like to RSVP or submit questions in advance may do so by emailing JulieRogers@house.mi.gov.
Governor Outlines Priorities in “What’s Next Address”
On Aug. 30, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer outlined her legislative priorities headed into this fall after an incredibly productive first eight months of 2023. I am excited to partner with the governor and my colleagues in the House to pursue transformational changes that will protect Michiganders’ values and support our communities. Moving forward, we will work on:
- Protecting Michiganders’ rights to access to reproductive health care as guaranteed in Michigan’s Constitution. With the passage of the Reproductive Freedom for All constitutional amendment, this 11-bill package aligns our laws with our constitution. They will eliminate the obstructive 24-hour waiting period for patients seeking medical care, remove burdensome and unnecessary regulations on facilities that provide reproductive health care, restore health insurance coverage for abortion and ensure that decisions about health care and the appropriate procedures to meet patient needs remain between patients and their physicians. These bills were introduced on Sept. 6, and I am proud to be one of the bill sponsors. As they have been referred to the Health Policy Committee, I expect they will be considered by the House in the very near future.
- Guaranteeing health care protections for everyone in Michigan. With federal court cases threatening the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act, particularly coverage for essential services like cancer screenings, we will put the provisions Michigan residents rely on into state law. The eight-bill package, in which I am a main sponsor, has already been voted out of one chamber in the Legislature. The bills will ensure children can stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26, protect your access to health insurance regardless of having a preexisting condition, and prevent discrimination in access to health care because of your race, religion, sexual orientation, gender and other factors.
- Meeting the challenges facing our state’s environment, climate, and energy infrastructure. Michigan will face new obstacles as more severe weather affects us more frequently and our outdated energy infrastructure cannot keep up. We can address this by investing in energy efficiency, supporting more renewable energy production, and preparing our children to work in the burgeoning green energy sector and ensuring access to clean water is vital.
- Providing family and medical leave to all Michigan workers and their families. About 77% of Michigan workers do not have access to paid leave to deal with a death in the family, critical illness, caring for a newborn or helping an ailing family member. In addition, small businesses can’t compete for workers when large companies offer this benefit, but it is unaffordable for small family businesses. We will level the playing field for employers and employees while ensuring no one must choose between paying their bills or caring for themselves and their families.
- Securing our elections and protecting your right to vote. Michigan took a significant step in securing our voting rights and expanding accessibility to the ballot box with the passage of Proposal 2. There are, however, additional steps we can take to secure our elections and protect your right to vote. Enacting of the Michigan Voting Rights Act will prohibit voter suppression, expand access to those who may speak a language other than English, provide accommodations to those with disabilities and prohibit intimidation before, during and after an election. It is vital that you know your vote will count when you step into the ballot box.
Environmental Literacy Task Force and Curriculum Bill Introduction
On Sept. 6, I reintroduced a bill I have previously worked on to establish an Environmental Literacy Task Force with the goal of developing a model curriculum on environmental literacy in K-12 schools.
The model curriculum will be designed by educators to help students understand and address environmental challenges, contribute to students’ healthy lifestyles, improve existing environmental curricula, and provide activities and programs that advance environmental education.
Opportunities in the green job sector are increasing year over year. Now more than ever, educating our students about sustainability and environmental concerns will make them better stewards of our natural resources and prepare them for career opportunities.
Legislative Leadership Development Conference
In August, I had the incredible opportunity to participate in the Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development conference with 36 other legislators from across the Midwest and Canada. The fellowship, which is operated by the Council of State Governments, brought me into contact with policy experts, other lawmakers with different perspectives, professional leadership trainers and successful current and former legislators with additional experience. Over a jam-packed four days, I attended seminars, shared my experiences as a legislator with other colleagues, engaged in policy discussions and benefited immensely from the experience. I am proud to join the over 900 alumni who have completed the program since 1995 and can’t wait to use the lessons I learned to better serve you as your state representative in Lansing.
Western Michigan University Welcome Back and New Student Union
Students have returned to campus, and I was delighted to be able to greet many of them at the Western Michigan University’s Bronco Bash on Aug. 29. With the start of the new academic year, WMU also opened the new Student Union building after four years of construction. The three-story building will meet the needs of students on campus with dining options, campus bookstore, a game room, student art gallery, meeting rooms and other amenities. The nearly 18,000 students attending WMU will benefit enormously from the updated facilities and will contribute to their academic success.
Healthy School Meals for All
For the 2023-24 school year, Michigan joins eight other states in ensuring that no child goes hungry when attending K-12 public school. The recently enacted budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year included $160 million to provide breakfast and lunch to Michigan’s public school students without cost to their families. No one should go hungry while trying to learn, and research demonstrates children perform better academically when their food needs are met. All public-school children in Michigan will be on an equal footing when it comes to meeting their nutritional needs while in class, ensuring they are ready to learn and grow.
Kalamazoo County Prescription Drug Discount Card Program
Kalamazoo County recently revived its relationship with the National Association of Counties Prescription Discount Card Program. This program is one I championed while serving on the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners, and I am delighted that it is returning for area residents. The card is available to all Kalamazoo County residents and provides discounts on prescription drugs whether you are insured or uninsured. Residents can apply and pick up their card at Kalamazoo County Health and Community services.